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The Magicians: A Novel by Lev Grossman

The Magicians: A Novel (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Lev Grossman

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5,986489696 (3.45)1 / 413
Title:The Magicians: A Novel
Authors:Lev Grossman
Info:Viking Adult (2009), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, read in 2012

Work details

The Magicians by Lev Grossman (2009)

Recently added byFmb, private library, revser, kallai7, Jon_Hansen, cbloky
Legacy LibrariesTim Spalding
  1. 171
    The Secret History by Donna Tartt (middled, kraaivrouw, Euryale)
    Euryale: No magic, but I thought the tone and setting were otherwise very similar.
  2. 215
    The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (Jannes)
    Jannes: The Magicians wolud not exist if it wasn't for the Narnia books, and is really a kind of loving deconstruction of Lewis' work. What could be better than giving the books that inspired it a try?
  3. 121
    Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman (catfantastic)
    catfantastic: Read the short story "The Problem of Susan" included in this collection.
  4. 157
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel by Susanna Clarke (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Magic is real in a world we recognize--Napoleonic England and contemporary New York.
  5. 147
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling (sonyagreen)
    sonyagreen: It's like HP goes to college, complete with drinking and sex.
  6. 40
    The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume I by Diana Wynne Jones (Anonymous user)
  7. 20
    The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins (TFleet)
    TFleet: Both novels are centered in the modern real world, but with a set of young adults who have magical powers. The novels are different takes on the question, "What would the modern real world be like if there were magic?"
  8. 31
    The Book of Lost Things: A Novel by John Connolly (rnmcusic)
  9. 20
    The Once and Future King by T. H. White (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: I thought of making this recommendation when reading the magical education section of The Magicians, which reminded me of the first book of The Once and Future King. But the wider idea - that magical powers can't stop us from making stupid human mistakes - is also relevant to both books.… (more)
  10. 20
    Little, Big by John Crowley (rarm)
    rarm: Fairy tale worlds that reveal a hidden darkness.
  11. 20
    Shadowland by Peter Straub (Scottneumann)
  12. 75
    Harry Potter Box Set (Books 1-7) by J. K. Rowling (elleeldritch)
    elleeldritch: An adult version of Harry Potter (and Narnia), albeit with a different (but still interesting) magic scheme.
  13. 10
    The Silver Nutmeg: The Story of Anna Lavinia and Toby by Palmer Brown (tetrachromat)
    tetrachromat: Both describe the reflections of certain pools of water as windows onto other realities. The Silver Nutmeg, however, is much less dark and aimed at younger readers.
  14. 10
    Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill (Scottneumann)
  15. 10
    The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott (Jess1106)
  16. 10
    The Voodoo Killings: A Kincaid Strange Novel by Kristi Charish (charlie68)
  17. 21
    How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu (lobotomy42)
    lobotomy42: Similar combination of a genre setting, an unlikeable protagonist, and an inward-looking plot.
  18. 10
    Phantastes by George MacDonald (charlie68)
    charlie68: Similar themes.
  19. 10
    Bedtime Story by Robert J. Wiersema (ShelfMonkey)
  20. 65
    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling (kaledrina)
    kaledrina: Older YAs and above. Really for late teens and adults. Potter meets Narnia meet sex drugs and rock n roll.

(see all 30 recommendations)


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Showing 1-5 of 480 (next | show all)
I abandoned this book.
Nothing happens! When something finally happens they skip over it, months later and if they ever come back to explain the weird occurrence and the freaking DEATH I never got that far!
I read on and on and on waiting for something to occur and instead I'm given enormous leaps of time: four months later, six months later and nothing happens!
I don't understand how this book is so highly rated and popular, I couldn't handle it so if anyone can explain it to me, please do!
Nothing happens!!!! ( )
  AnaThaylen | Mar 3, 2017 |
Who doesn't love magic? The Magicians is a book about magic, in fact much of it takes place in a school of magic. The difficulties of the school of magic in the post-Harry Potter world notwithstanding, another problem presents itself. As delightful or terrifying as magic may be, books with magical themes are still books, and as such the magic alone is not enough. They need characters to care about, creative world building, a plot to move things along, etc.

I enjoyed a lot about this book. In particular, the world building was convincing and easy to clamber onto. The author offers quite a few clever ideas and innovations that bring pleasure. The action proceeds apace, with little lag. We sense that we are faced with real people facing real problems and real relationships, albeit in a magical setting, which is an accomplishment.

There are problems here. While the characters are consistent and believable, they are, for the most part, not especially likable or easy to root for. I will not here elaborate, but in general these are callow, immature, rather selfish individuals with little sense of themselves or their purposes. It's a rather lost group, and their magical studies apparently do little to help them find themselves. With one notable exception, but no need for spoilers here.

The second issue had to to with payoff. I think it's fair to say this book rarely gives the reader the gratification desired. There is more frustrating rather than gratifying the reader. This might still make for a great book if done well, for a clear purpose. Think Jude the Obscure. But Grossman was not successful in conveying this, at least not to me, and so I depart this world with some sense of frustration and misfired potential.

One thing desperately lacking here is any sense of charm. There is magic with no charm or joy. Good writing and creative ideas ameliorate this somewhat, but insufficiently to be able to recommend this without reservation. ( )
  stellarexplorer | Feb 8, 2017 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED: https://bibliomantics.com/2017/02/03/my-year-in-reading-cassie-las-january-2017-wrap-up/

Pitched as adult Harry Potter, the first book in Lev Grossman’s trilogy is more like the darkest parts of Harry Potter meets the strangest bits of The Chronicles of Narnia meets the whiniest portions of The Catcher in the Rye. Incredibly slow yet super fast paced at the same time, Grossman’s story is inexplicably jam-packed with plot yet completely lacking in it. How is that possible? ¯_(ツ)_/¯ ( )
  yrchmonger | Feb 4, 2017 |
This was highly recommended to me from everyone I know who reads either fantasy and/or YA, and they all loved it. While I knew going into the story that it was a love letter to J.K. Rowling and T.H. White, it was more of a direct copy then an influence. Just make Harry a few years older, an American, with Ron and Hermione already by his side and poof! You've got The Magicians.

I couldn't get beyond the fact that I felt like I was reading fan fiction instead of a new piece of work, and a poorly plotted novel at that. I will not argue that all works stem from influence of others, that's how the arts survive, but this felt less like an homage and more of lazy writing then something creatively new.

Some have said since this is a good replacement for your HP kick, but that is like stating one should read 50 SHADES OF GREY to get more TWILIGHT.

( )
2 vote byshieldmaiden | Jan 17, 2017 |
The Magicians is the first series/book I read of 2017. I’d been meaning to read this series ever since I saw the TV show because I absolutely LOVED the show. There are a lot of key differences between the show and the books, however. Characters that live/die, plot points, even the characters themselves are altered or even omitted out of the show. I did want to mention that there are enough differences that as you read the book, some things will surprise you… Actually the ending of the show’s first season is completely different from the ending of this book.

Just a few differences: The first book is entirely from Q’s perspective, so there is very little of Julia even mentioned. Eliot, whom I love in the show, is a character that takes a backburner in the first book as well. Julia’s place in the show is very different from the book, almost in every way. Her character in the show is far warmer and more interesting, but equally as badass.

For those of you have neither read the books, nor seen the show, this series is about a magician named Quentin. He isn’t your typical hero, with shining courage and Gryffindorian bravery. He is truly one of the most realistic characters I have ever read about. He has evident foibles and imperfections that make him unlike almost any main character you will read about. That in and of itself should be a reason to read this book, for those who enjoy a legitimate antihero type of character.

He is clearly clinical in some way, whether that is depression or bipolar disorder. I’m inclined to think bipolar, since his moods swing on a pendulum from ecstatic and full of wonderment, to extreme loathing and self-doubt about his abilities not only as a magician, but as a human being. It’s entirely refreshing to me to read about a character who is ultimately often unlikable, but going through a lot of presupposed things that endears me to his character. Oftentimes, I found myself annoyed with Q and his friends, both hating and relating to their daily struggles as disenfranchised youths who theoretically have everything going for them, and yet they still remain unhappy.

This book surprised me in several key ways, mainly in that it goes by so quickly. It’s very clear that his magical education at Brakebills is in no way going to mirror Harry Potter’s staggering seven years. Q goes through all 5 years within the first book (he’s effectively bumped up a year, so it’s more like 4 years), and then promptly goes into a drinking and drug binge once it’s complete, before the main adventure takes hold. During his formative school years, you won’t find him at 13, able to incapacitate a troll in the dungeons with the magic he has learned. It takes years of hard practice, of learning difficult hand motions and memorizing old languages until you can speak them more or less fluently. You don’t just wave your wand around and utter a few basically Latin phrases: you twist your fingers and hands around, you utter ancient Serbian or Enochian. It’s not simple to learn magic, and you absolutely have to actually have some degree of intelligence to even be a magician.

The first book is largely world building. Spikes of intrigue and adventure occur throughout, but it really isn’t terribly exciting up until the last 80 pages, and even then the ending is a bit… abrupt. But I did finish it in a few days, so I at least found it interesting and intriguing in its own right. The way the author creates this world within a world is well-thought out, and, dare I say it again, realistic within its created parameters. My favorite thing about this book, and this series, is that if magic was real, I have no doubt it would be something similar to this style of complicated, difficult magic. Ultimately, I’m torn between wanting to know more about his magical education, and enjoying the faster, more realistically magical pace of the series. I think Grossman may have steered away from magical education because of the obvious HP implications.

And, my last comment about this series: on the matter of books vs. TV series debate… I like the TV series better than the book. I think they take interesting and dark concepts that the book has, and twist them into something more beautiful and harrowing. Q is more likable in the show, while remaining still a clearly unhappy individual. If you weren’t a fan of the book, but enjoy dark magic-inspired tales, I would wholeheartedly suggest the show. ( )
  Lauraborealis | Jan 10, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 480 (next | show all)
”Magikerna” marknadsförs som ”Harry Potter för vuxna”, men i själva verket är det en ovanligt vacker sorgesång över hur det är att lämna barndomen. Det var faktiskt bättre förr, när man kunde uppslukas helt av leken.
added by Jannes | editDagens nyheter, Lotta Olsson (Feb 4, 2013)
This isn't just an exercise in exploring what we love about fantasy and the lies we tell ourselves about it -- it's a shit-kicking, gripping, tightly plotted novel that makes you want to take the afternoon off work to finish it.
added by lampbane | editBoing Boing, Cory Doctorow (Oct 20, 2009)
It’s the original magic — storytelling — that occasionally trips Grossman up. Though the plot turns new tricks by the chapter, the characters have a fixed, “Not Another Teen Movie” quality. There’s the punk, the aesthete, the party girl, the fat slacker, the soon-to-be-hot nerd, the shy, angry, yet inexplicably irresistible narrator. Believable characters form the foundation for flights of fantasy. Before Grossman can make us care about, say, the multiverse, we need to intuit more about Quentin’s interior universe.
Somewhat familiar, albeit entertaining... Grossman's writing is intelligent, but don't give this one to the kids—it's a dark tale that suggests our childhood fantasies are no fun after all.
added by Shortride | editPeople, Sue Corbett (Aug 31, 2009)
Grossman has written both an adult coming-of-age tale—rife with vivid scenes of sex, drugs, and heartbreak—and a whimsical yarn about forest creatures. The subjects aren’t mutually exclusive, and yet when stirred together so haphazardly, the effect is jarring. More damaging still is the plot, which takes about 150 pages to gain any steam, surges dramatically in the book’s final third, and then peters out with a couple chapters left to go.
added by Shortride | editBookforum, Michael Shaer (Aug 14, 2009)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lev Grossmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bramhall, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I'll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I'll drown my book.

--William Shakespeare, The Tempest
For Lily
First words
Quentin did a magic trick. Nobody noticed.
That guy was a mystery wrapped in an enigma and crudely stapled to a ticking fucking time bomb. He was either going to hit somebody or start a blog.
Space was full of angry little particles.
He had no interest in TV anymore - it looked like an electronic puppet show to him, an artificial version of an imitation world that meant nothing to him anyway. Real life - or was it a fantasy life? whichever one Brakebills was - that was what mattered, and that was happening somewhere else.
No one would come right out and say it, but the worldwide magical ecology was suffering from a serious imbalance: too many magicians, not enough monsters.
"Never cook with a wine you wouldn't drink," he said. "Though I guess that presupposes that there is a wine I wouldn't drink."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0670020559, Hardcover)

Amazon Best of the Month, August 2009: Mixing the magic of beloved children's fantasy classics (from Narnia and Oz to Harry Potter and Earthsea) with the sex, excess, angst, and anticlimax of life in college and beyond, Lev Grossman's Magicians reimagines modern-day fantasy for grownups. Quentin Coldwater lives in a state of perpetual melancholy, privately obsessed with his childhood books about the enchanted land of Fillory. When he’s admitted to the surreptitious Brakebills Academy for an education in magic, Quentin finds mastering spells is tedious (and love is even more fraught). He also discovers his power has thrilling potential--though it's unclear what he should do with it once he's moved with his new magician cohorts to New York City. Then they discover the magical land of Fillory is real and launch an expedition to use their powers to set things right in the kingdom--which, naturally, turns out to be a much murkier proposition than expected. The Magicians breathes life into a cast of characters you want to know--if the people you want to know are charismatic, brilliant, complex, flawed magicians--and does what Quentin claims books never really manage to do: "get you out, really out, of where you were and into somewhere better. " Or if not better, at least a heck of a lot more interesting. --Mari Malcolm

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:45 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

As a senior in high school Quentin Coldwater became preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. After graduating from college and being admitted into a highly exclusive, secret society of magic in upstate New York, he makes a stunning discovery: Fillory is real. But the land of Quentin's fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he could have imagined for his childhood dream becomes a nightmare with a shocking truth at its heart.… (more)

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